The legal battle over the Obama administration’s cornerstone action to confront climate change, the Clean Power Plan, marked another milestone on Tuesday when opponents and supporters alike got their day in court in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

States, led by West Virginia, and industry groups challenged the rule, which requires the electric power sector to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 32% by 2030. They claimed the federal government has overstepped its authority in regulating such a significant portion of the U.S. economy, among other technical, legal arguments.  The U.S. EPA, Department of Justice, environmental organizations, many other states, and several cities defended the rule; I think the defenders have the law right.

We won’t know the outcome from the courtroom drama for months while the D.C. Circuit determines its ruling. But does it matter? For perceptual, political and some practical reasons, yes. But on the whole, the ruling may not be as important as some are making it out to be.

A decision allowing the rule to go forward would show the world that the U.S. is serious about upholding its commitments made in Paris last December at a time when countries are deciding if and how they will follow through. And, it would surely make it more difficult for a Republican Congress and a potential Trump administration to halt EPA implementation. Having no legal justification to do so, they would no doubt face law suits from environmental advocates that press the EPA to move forward.

Such a ruling would also support the basic tenor of a majority of Americans. According to a recent poll conducted by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 65% of Americans think climate change is a problem that the government needs to address. Most also support federal regulations—like the Clean Power Plan—that would decrease U.S. coal consumption…

Continue reading at Forbes…

Areas of Focus: Energy Markets
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Energy Markets
Well-functioning markets are essential for providing access to reliable, affordable energy. EPIC research is uncovering the policies, prices and information needed to help energy markets work efficiently.
Electric Power
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Electric Power
As the electric power system faces new pressures and opportunities, EPIC research is working to identify the mix of policies needed to accelerate the global transition to clean, reliable, affordable...
Energy Efficiency
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Energy Efficiency
Improving energy efficiency is lauded as a promising way reduce emissions and lower energy costs. Yet, a robust body of research demonstrates that not all efficiency investments deliver. EPIC faculty...
Fossil Fuels
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Fossil Fuels
Under current policies, fossil fuels will play an important role in the energy system for the foreseeable future. EPIC research is exploring the costs and benefits of these fuels as...
Transportation
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Transportation
Mobility is central to economic activity. Yet, a lack of fuel diversity and continued demand growth have made the transportation industry a major contributor to global pollution and carbon emissions....
Renewable Energy
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Renewable Energy
Lower technology costs and supportive public policies are driving an increase in renewable energy in markets around the world. EPIC research is assessing the costs, benefits, and efficiency of policies...
Climate Change
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Climate Change
Climate change is an urgent global challenge. EPIC research is helping to assess its impacts, quantify its costs, and identify an efficient set of policies to reduce emissions and adapt...
Climate Economics
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Climate Economics
Climate change will affect every sector of the economy, both locally and globally. EPIC research is quantifying these effects to help guide policymakers, businesses, and individuals working to mitigate and...
Climate Law & Policy
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Climate Law & Policy
As countries around the world implement policies to confront climate change, EPIC research is calculating which policies will have the most impact for the least cost.